This surprised the hell out of me…
We send every one of our agents to the Holocaust Museum before they’re agents to know and understand what happens when an agency goes rogue,” ex-FBI director Robert Mueller explained recently.
Agents take a private, guided tour of the museum. Then there’s a specialized class that highlights how everyday law enforcement played a key role in Germany’s descent into authoritarianism. It wasn’t only elite military units, like the infamous Schutzstaffel, or SS. [...]
Then he brings up dark moments in American history. Japanese-Americans were sent to World War II internment camps. Civil Rights protestors were beaten by cops. And the FBI’s own covert surveillance program, COINTELPRO, targeted athletes, journalists, politicians and grassroots movements for being “subversive.”
“We can’t afford to think we’re different, just because of our DNA or upbringing,” Friedman said. “If we’re not careful, all of us can slide down that slippery slope.”
The FBI isn’t alone. Nearly every federal law enforcement agency sends new recruits to the museum. The 90,000 who have been there since 1999 include agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service and U.S. Marshals, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
What a great idea.
And yet, from the things we read every day in criminal justice stories, it seems that the intended lessons may not have taken hold all that well.
Makes one wonder if some have come away from the experience mistakenly thinking that the admonition was, instead, a suggestion.
This video, which is getting some serious play, points out the problem we face today and the failure of law enforcement to learn those lessons. It’s not all cops, for certain — I work with a number of law enforcement officers who do amazingly good community policing. But it’s becoming the perception of how law enforcement generally works, which means that it’ll take a huge effort on the part of the entire profession itself to change that image.